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Thornapple Manor to explore more senior housing




Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney asked Barry County commissioners for a resolution to support the exploration of more independent and assisted living units as well as adult day care services in the county. (Photos by Rebecca Pierce)


Rebecca Pierce



Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney said he had considered the much-discussed housing shortage in Barry County as a workforce issue.

Then he heard a presentation by area Realtors to the Barry Community Foundation and he realized the need was much bigger.

So, with the blessing of his board at Thornapple Manor, he commissioned a market study to determine the extent of the need.

“I was surprised by the numbers,” Haney told Barry County commissioners Tuesday. “Just based on conversations, I knew that there would be demand, but I didn’t realize there would be this much demand.”

The need for housing extends across all income and age levels, he said. But his efforts are specifically focused on senior housing.

Their market study indicated a need for an additional 280 independent senior living units, 60 assisted living units and 22 adult day care slots.

So Haney asked commissioners Tuesday to support Thomapple Manor in its effort to explore the addition of independent and assisted living units as well as adult day care services at Thornapple Manor.

The board unanimously supported approving his request. Their recommendation will come before the full board at the next meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.

Haney said he wanted the board's support because the construction of any facilities would require, at a later time, the full faith and credit of the county to support the issuance of mortgage debt for the construction.

As County Administrator Michael Brown explained, the full faith and credit of the county would help to secure a competitive interest rate on the project.

But no project would be pursued it's not financially self-sustaining, Haney emphasized.

“One of the requirements I have .. is this is not going to cost taxpayer money. If it can’t be self-sustaining, then I’m not interested. It would be completely self-supporting, self-sustaining.”

Haney stressed that there is no project planned at this time.

But, with approval of the resolution by the commissioners, Thornapple Manor would spend the money to explore the possibilities, feasibility, and cost projections of adding some combination of independent and assisted living units and adult day care services.

 “Would you like me to go down this path?” he asked commissioners.

The cost about financial feasibility and answers to other construction questions could run between $150,000 and $200,000, a cost that would come out of the Thornapple Manor fund balance, he said. But he'd rather not incur that cost if the county isn’t squarely behind it.

“It sounds like a worthy endeavor,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said, who asked if the units could be placed in some place other than the Thornapple Manor campus.

Haney said, to some degree, it would make sense to have new development on the Thornapple Manor campus because of the others services there.

“Could we locate it elsewhere? I suppose we could. ...We would have to acquire the property,” he said.

The acquisition of land could prove to be an impediment to development, he noted, pointing to the study. “I asked myself why is no developer jumping on these numbers when the demand is so high?”

The answer, he said, is that the land isn't available.

Infrastructure, particularly sewer service,  may present other issues that would have to be addressed. Haney said he doesn't anticipate building all these units. “I don’t want to push us to a point where we have occupancy issues.”

Commissioner David Jackson applauded a phased-in approach, saying “build what you can fill.”


In other business, the board:

• Interviewed three applicants for one partial term on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee: Scott D. Brooks of Middleville, Eva Chapp of Hastings; Gene Greenfield of Hasting; and Michael Spangler of Shelbyville.

• Interviewed two applicants for two positions on the Zoning Board of Stacey Graham of Hastings; and Gerald Schmiedicke of Hastings. James Alden of Delton was unable to attend.

• Recommended setting a public hearing for consideration of the community development block grant emergency program income repair guidelines.

• Recommended approval of Drain Commissioner Jim Dull’s request for a budget amendment.

• Recommended the Public Act 116 Farmland Preservation requests from Dennis DeYoung; and Michael Buehler/Bradley Buehler

• Recommended approval for repair of the concrete steps at the sheriff’s office rear entrance.

• Recommended approval to complete equalization studies.

• Recommended approval of an airport mower purchase.

• Recommended revising the bylaws for the county Conservation Easement Board; Farmland Preservation Selection Criteria and Open Space Preservation Selection Criteria.

• Recommended funding the out-of-state travel costs totaling $2,260 for county board Chairwoman Heather Wing and Commissioner Ben Geiger to attend the Oct. 3 White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio Regional State Leadership Day in Washington, D.C.  




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